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9/18/2013 7:30 P.M. ET

Rondon works toward return with long-toss session

DETROIT -- Bruce Rondon made his first step toward returning to the mound as he recovers from tenderness in his right elbow, but he's at least several days away from pitching in a game.

Rondon hasn't made an appearance since Sept. 2, when he threw two-thirds of an inning against the Red Sox, but he threw long toss at 120 feet before Wednesday's game against the Mariners.

"It went very well; he was very happy," head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said. "At the end, he shortened up and let some balls go nice and easy and felt very good, very encouraged."

While he's felt good physically, throwing fastballs and changeups, he's struggled to throw sliders without soreness. According to Brooks Baseball, Rondon has thrown his slider on about 22 percent of his pitches.

Rondon will play catch again on Thursday and try to throw fastballs and changeups at normal distance from flat ground. The Tigers are hopeful he will be able to throw a bullpen with his slider by the end of the week.

"Obviously we've taken a cautious approach, because he's a young guy," Rand said. "He was throwing fastballs and changeups fine, but he was feeling it when he was spinning his breaking ball a little bit, so we wanted to make sure that we had nothing go on. We checked him out, but we just ended up giving him some time."

Infante, Hunter get breather prior to day game

DETROIT -- Both Omar Infante and Torii Hunter were held out of Wednesday's starting lineup against the Mariners as manager Jim Leyland hopes to keep them fresh for Thursday's day game.

Hernan Perez replaced Infante at second base, while Don Kelly started in right field. Although Infante is battling a sore quad, Leyland said Infante was available to play.

"Omar Infante is fine," Leyland said. "His quad was a little tight last night and I'm not going to take any chances, because I want him playing tomorrow against the lefty."

It was a scheduled day off for Hunter, but it will give Don Kelly his second straight start after he homered in Tuesday's game.

Matt Tuiasosopo was in left field, making his sixth start of the season against a right-handed pitcher. Mariners' starter Hisashi Iwakuma has held left-handed batters to a .217 batting average and 10 home runs this season, while righties are batting .235 with 15 home runs.

"[Iwakuma's] split dives away from the left-handers and the split comes in to the right-handers," Leyland said. "That doesn't mean they're going to hit it. He's pretty good; this guy's a very good pitcher. We've got our hands full."

Dotel gets rehab schedule, hopes to pitch in 2014

DETROIT -- Octavio Dotel hopes resting his arm over the next two months will allow him to pitch in the Major Leagues next season.

Dotel was shut down at the end of August after forearm tightness forced him out of a rehab game with Triple-A Toledo. He visited Dr. James Andrews this month and was given a platelet-rich plasma injection, as well as a rehab schedule.

"He wants to avoid surgery, obviously, and was told to rest basically for four-to-six weeks, I believe, before doing any kind of exercises and will start doing shoulder exercises after that," head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said. "He won't do any elbow exercises until two months."

Dotel will be a 40-year-old free agent in November, so any surgery that requires a lengthy rehab would likely be career-ending. He has pitched 951 innings over 758 Major League games for a record 13 different teams in his 15-year career.

Mud Hens welcome Parrish for third stint as manager

DETROIT -- On Wednesday, Triple-A Toledo announced Larry Parrish will make his third stint as a manager of the Mud Hens.

Parrish, the Hens' all-time leader in managerial wins, was named the International League's Manager of the Year in 2005 as he led Toledo to back-to-back championships in '05 and '06. In 1999, Parrish replaced Buddy Bell as the manager of the Tigers and went 69-92 in his lone season.

"He's terrific. I think the world of Larry Parrish," manager Jim Leyland said. "I think he's an outstanding baseball manager, a great evaluator. I think he's outstanding baseball guy and a great guy. I really enjoy being around him."

Parrish, a two-time Major League All-Star, made his first stint with the Mud Hens in 1994 before returning in 2003 for seven years, missing the '07 season. He replaces Phil Nevin, who parted ways with the organization on Sept. 1.

Parrish left Toledo after the 2010 season to take a job as the Atlanta Braves' hitting coach, a position he held for a year. He returned to the Tigers' organization this year and managed at low Class A West Michigan, but his value and his temperament best fit Triple-A and its combination of older prospects and veterans.

"It makes it easier to go to a place where you are familiar with things like what restaurants to eat at and what golf courses to play," Parrish told the Toledo Blade.

The Tigers also promoted Toledo's pitching coach A.J. Sager to the team's roving pitching coordinator, while athletic trainer Matt Rankin joins the Tigers as an assistant athletic trainer. Al Nipper, who was the team's roving coordinator for the past two years, will become the Mud Hens' pitching coach for the 2014 season.

Alvarez thrives after shifting to bullpen

DETROIT -- Jose Alvarez entered Tuesday's game with one out and the bases loaded in a one-run game in the eighth inning. In an 11-pitch at-bat, he was able to get Mike Zunino to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Alvarez has inherited five runners over his last two outings, allowing none of them to score. After making five spot starts for the Tigers this season, he moved to the bullpen in August and hasn't given up a run in his last three appearances spanning 4 2/3 innings.

"He's kind of an interesting guy," manager Jim Leyland said. "He doesn't seem to get too rattled or too excited. I've got to give him credit for that.

"He's got a real good feel for pitching without overpowering stuff. In most cases, he's had good control. You know a left-hander with good control, a very usable fastball, a very usable breaking ball and an excellent changeup, that's got some merit to it."

Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.